The Cricket Paper - - OPINION - DEREK PRINGLE

For those who en­joy spec­ta­cle and a good con­test, the an­nounce­ment that Chris Gayle and Marlon Sa­muels are back play­ing for West Indies will have brought a cho­rus of hal­lelu­jahs. The pair are fine crick­eters and will en­hance any side they play for, pro­vid­ing they buy into the team ethic, some­thing not al­ways ap­par­ent dur­ing their con­tro­ver­sial ca­reers.

Gayle, in par­tic­u­lar, is still one of the big­gest stars in world cricket, even if that su­per­nova has be­gun to wane. But has he been a good role model other than to ex­tol the ex­cesses and bling avail­able to play­ers who place T20 above all else in the crick­et­ing uni­verse? On that, the jury re­mains out.

But what of the other play­ers who might walk back into a first choice West Indies side were the re­la­tion­ship be­tween them and the board on the smil­ing side of cor­dial? Well, Su­nil Narine has spo­ken of want­ing to play in the Re­gional Su­per 50 tour­na­ment be­fore he is con­sid­ered for one-day in­ter­na­tion­als again while Dar­ren Bravo, younger brother of in­jured all­rounder Dwayne, has sim­ply said he is un­avail­able.

Bravo ju­nior has had his run-ins with Cricket West Indies (CWI), with spe­cial an­i­mus di­rected at the chair­man of the board, Dave Cameron, af­ter he un­fairly crit­i­cised Bravo. In 2016, Bravo was re­called from a tour of Zim­babwe af­ter his con­dem­na­tion of Cameron on Twit­ter, though he has not been alone in that as on­go­ing pay dis­putes have opened a schism be­tween board and play­ers.

But while there is no doubt that the board have been overly pa­ter­nal­is­tic in their top-down man­age­ment style – you are em­ploy­ees so you will do as you are told – the play­ers have not helped mat­ters by be­ing mil­i­tant in their ap­proach to pro­posed res­o­lu­tion. Johnny Grave, the new CEO of CWI, with his ex­pe­ri­ence at the Pro­fes­sional Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion, has been brought in to sort out the mess.

This is where the prob­lems be­come a lit­tle grey. Rather than the black and white po­si­tion of ‘board id­iots ver­sus player mer­ce­nar­ies’, we have the added com­pli­ca­tion of many hav­ing their own in­di­vid­ual beefs with author­ity.

For in­stance, Bravo ju­nior, some­what un­usu­ally in this age, re­gards Test cricket as the high­est form of the game and wants to pre­pare him­self for it, hence his un­avail­abil­ity for the One-Day se­ries. He has made sim­i­lar de­ci­sions be­fore be­tween red and white ball cricket and would have been in­cluded in the cur­rent Test team, strug­gling at present against Eng­land, had the olive branch from the board come be­fore the tour party was se­lected.

While there is no doubt the board have been overly pa­ter­nal­is­tic in their man­age­ment style – you are em­ploy­ees so you will do as you are told – the play­ers have not helped mat­ters by be­ing mil­i­tant

Narine’s case is dif­fer­ent. His re­quest to play in do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion, be­fore be­ing se­lected for the na­tional team again, comes from lit­tle more than be­ing cau­tious. Noth­ing is more anath­ema to a spin­ner than be­ing branded a cheat for chuck­ing and Narine has un­der­gone re­me­dial ac­tion on his bowl­ing ac­tion af­ter be­ing sus­pended from play­ing in 2015.

Like most who have gone through this process, he is ner­vous about the ex­tra scru­tiny, and there­fore the added pres­sure, in­ter­na­tional cricket would bring. It is thus a sen­si­ble move to make sure every­thing is tick­ety-boo with his bowl­ing be­fore he steps back onto the in­ter­na­tional stage.

Apart from keep­ing your play­ers happy and well rec­om­pensed, a huge chal­lenge for CWI un­der Cameron, the best way to en­sure your best play­ers do na­tional ser­vice (and ar­guably one of the most dif­fi­cult now the ge­nie is out of the bot­tle) is to sched­ule do­mes­tic T20 com­pe­ti­tions when they don’t clash with Test or ODI se­ries.

In that re­spect, even the new T20 in Eng­land is likely to be blighted, be­ing with­out the Eng­land play­ers, and their op­po­nents, who will have a full sum­mer of in­ter­na­tional cricket to con­tend with.

At the mo­ment, Test cricket, the most de­mand­ing and time-con­sum­ing of the three for­mats, is be­ing com­pro­mised by many pri­ori­tis­ing white-ball for­mats to the point that apart from Eng­land, Aus­tralia, In­dia and Pak­istan, it has be­come third rate, at least in the peck­ing or­der for the play­ers.

Sort­ing that out, so the best all-round crick­eters can play all three for­mats with­out hav­ing to choose be­tween them, would solve much of the cur­rent dis­af­fec­tion be­tween play­ers and boards af­flict­ing the game.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Fall-out: Dar­ren Bravo has de­clared him­self un­avail­able for the One-Day se­ries

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